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Tenth Anniversary of the International Day against Nuclear Tests

29 August 2019

Today is the Tenth Anniversary of the International Day against Nuclear Tests commemorated annually on 29 August. This significant day has particular importance for the entire international community. This date has received the international status in December 2009 when the UN General Assembly adopted its historic Resolution 64/35 on the matter. Therefore, this year we celebrate this Day globally for the tenth time.

The beginning of nuclear tests in the East Kazakhstan Region, which started exactly 70 years ago in 1949, marked one of the most tragic pages in the history of Kazakhstan. These terrific explosions brought innumerable disasters to its population. More than 1 million people suffered on the territory of 300 thousand square kilometres, which is equal to the territory of Italy, for example. In 1991, on this memorable date of 29 August, H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, First President of Kazakhstan, Leader of the Nation, made a truly historic decision, closing by his decree the world’s second largest Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site.

Other countries followed this right choice and good example made by Kazakhstan. This step eventually ceased functioning of other nuclear test sites globally and paved the way for the adoption in 1996 of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty - CTBT.

Because of the enormous efforts by Kazakhstan’s First President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the country Kazakhstan has rapidly gone from the status of possessor of the fourth largest nuclear arsenal to the widely recognized rank of leading country in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Under His Excellency’s leadership, from the day of Independence, Kazakhstan has been persistently striving to achieve the goal of a nuclear-free world and turning it into the main task of humanity in the 21st century. Guided by the noble idea of a nuclear-free future, the Leader of Kazakhstan Nation initiated in 2015 the adoption of the Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World by the UN General Assembly.

Due to the country’s strong efforts, UNGA adopted this Declaration in December 2015 along with its Resolution 70/57. In the current complex global geopolitical situation, the relevance of the Universal Declaration is growing, and the universal principles and obligations on nuclear disarmament enshrined in this important document, should build bridges between different views on the construction of a safer world.

In 2016, at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, Mr. Nazarbayev presented his conceptual anti-war vision entitled Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century”. The main idea of this treatise: “In no modern warfare there will be winners. Every party will lose”. Kazakhstan therefore urges all members of the international community to strive towards a world completely free from nuclear weapons. This will help to create a sustainable future to our succeeding generations and to save them from the scourge of war, as demanded by the UN Charter. Kazakhstan believes it is time to put an end to military block thinking and adapt the disarmament process to new realities by utilizing appropriate confidence-building measures.

10 years ago, the Treaty of Semei on the Establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia entered into force. So far, it is the last such zone, created in the 21st century. Kazakhstan proposes to redouble the international community’s efforts by consolidating the potential of nuclear-weapon-free zones in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Therefore, by the initiative of the First President of Kazakhstan, city of Nur-Sultan hosted on 28-29 August a Joint Meeting of the Representatives of nuclear-weapon-free zones.         
As Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev noted, putting forward this idea, “the creation of nuclear-weapon-free zones is one of the most effective means to fight the spread of nuclear weapons”.

Many countries nowadays are alarmed by the increasing tensions and conflict potential all over the globe, especially in recent years. The growing disagreement between main powers intensifies the instability of the current world order, making it less predictable. Financial and trade and economic contradictions are exacerbating. The effectiveness of global development institutions is declining. There is no reassuring news from the Middle East. Apart from that, conflicts on the African continent, unfortunately, do not stop.

On the other hand, the fate of the extremely important Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for the Iranian Nuclear Program is unclear. The situation on the Korean Peninsula also requires special attention of the world community. Against this background, the deficit of trust between the leading actors of the world is growing and the effectiveness of the international political institutions, including the United Nations as most important of them, is being lost. In this situation, it is necessary to soberly assess global risks and combine efforts to eliminate them.

World leaders thus need to think seriously about how to leave a safe, peaceful and prosperous planet to the next generations. To this end, Kazakhstan continues to work actively to strengthen global peace and security, achieve SDGs; ensure prosperity of all nations without exception; rid the world of wars and violence; and maintain adherence to the principles of international law.

Kazakhstan, which was the first country to voluntary close the existing nuclear test site, continuously advocates for the early entry into force of the CTBT. The country calls on all states who did not sign or ratify the CTBT yet to take every necessary measure to ensure its earliest entry into force. Kazakhstan has always supported and intends to continue rendering its support to the work of the CTBTO.

Fundamental support for the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has become yet another evidence of Kazakhstan's consistent approach to nuclear disarmament. Hence, today this country has transferred the instrument of ratification of the TPNW to the UN Secretariat as the depositary of the Treaty.

Kazakhstan continues to participate actively in all global anti-nuclear efforts and thus provided its strong support to the initiative of Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, on a new comprehensive disarmament agenda. Yet, proliferation of nuclear weapons poses an existential threat to humanity, since today hundreds of the 15,000 nuclear bombs stored around the world could be ready to be launched within minutes. This can lead to a global disaster when entire cities all over the world will disappear.

UN members are worried about the global security situation, in particular, in the nuclear sphere. Many of them think that it is a need to reverse the trends of recent years, associated with insufficient investment in strengthening international security. And also to transform policy in this field, because yet, it only leads to a heap of problems.

To this end, Kazakhstan shared some of its ideas and proposals in this field, as follows:

First, next year the world will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. This event provides an occasion for a deep reassessment of contemporary challenges and threats and the subsequent development of an urgent and realistic disarmament agenda to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan is ready to work together to contribute to the success of the upcoming NPT Review Conference and urges all interested parties to make efforts to avoid a repetition of the failure of the Review Conference in 2015.

Second, the question of the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty remains unresolved. Kazakhstan will continue to facilitate the entry into force of the CTBT and urges the leaders of the countries who did not yet sign or ratify the CTBT, to join the Treaty without further delay. The world community needs to combine its efforts to create a coalition of states to facilitate the early entry into force of the CTBT.

Third, rushing into the future and going on the path to new achievements, countries often forget about the achievements that can sometimes serve as a solid foundation for centuries. In previous years, because of painstaking work and incredible efforts, the global community managed to reach very important agreements and develop mechanisms to strengthen international security. For instance, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for the Iranian nuclear programme is a real practical example of resolving the most difficult issues through negotiations. JCPOA was developed and adopted thanks to the dialogue and atmosphere of trust. Kazakhstan has also contributed to their creation.

Hence, the country supported the multilateral negotiation process on this issue, including by organizing in 2013 in Almaty two rounds of consultations of the E3 + 3 and Iran. Kazakhstan is interested in continuing the process of implementing the Joint Plan, both in terms of developing bilateral trade and economic relations with Iran, and also within strengthening regional security. Many members of the international community are convinced that it is a strong need for a durable and effective means of resolving the most complex global and regional problems. However, it is also true that to find them is only possible by way of mutually acceptable compromise and utilizing political and diplomatic means.

Enhanced cooperation should continue to consolidate the efforts of all the states that are parties to the nuclear-weapon-free zones agreements of Pelindaba (Africa); Semei (Central Asia); Bangkok (Southeast Asia); Rarotonga (South Pacific); Tlatelolco (Latin America and the Caribbean), in order to achieve the ultimate goal of turning our Earth into one nuclear-free zone.

by the Embassy of Kazakhstan in South Africa




February/March 2020








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